Community Partnership of the Year  – Sponsored by Saffron Interactive 

“It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to support an individual. The Community Partnership of the Year category at this year’s ERSA Employability Awards provides much needed recognition of the work frontline advisors, support teams and local communities do every day, assisting those furthest from the market into meaningful careers. The Saffron team are proud to sponsor this award and celebrate the continued hard work across the sector.”     

  • Ian Hilder, Performance Consultant, Saffron Interactive  

Saffron Interactive is the developer of the ground-breaking and innovative Create Your Own Future employability support platform.  

For the supported individual, Create Your Own Future is a safe, friendly online environment within which they choose their own digital video-based advisor. That personal advisor ‘converses’ with them, gathering all necessary information, offering advice and help, and then guiding them through their employability journey – and beyond – with prompts and assistance to keep them on track. 

For the IAG advisor, Create Your Own Future is an extension of themselves, taking away much of the ‘legwork’ by enabling their clients to self-direct as far as they can. The platform provides the advisor with insight on an individual’s activity and confidence, enabling them to deliver high value support, collaboration and ‘just in time’ intervention, where necessary.  

For the provider, Create Your Own Future is a solution delivering greater efficiency, consistent quality of service and a wealth of data-insight.  

But for the entire public sector, Create Your Own Future is an adaptable, ‘living’ digital platform that provides the shape of employability solutions for the future, today.  

Find out more by visiting our website or contact us on 

Organisations working together to form partnerships that support local communities already furthest from the labour market

  • Working for Carers – A partnership between Carers Trust and four of its Network Partners: Camden Carers Service; Harrow Carers; Carers Lewisham; and Redbridge Carers Support Service
  • Working for Carers is a unique project that provides employability support for unpaid carers. The project is delivered across all London boroughs through a partnership between Carers Trust and four Network Partners (local carers centres): Camden Carers Service; Harrow Carers; Carers Lewisham; and Redbridge Carers Support Service. The project is open to carers and former carers aged 25 and over who are not in employment. The majority are economically inactive (not in employment or seeking work) when they register, and most have been out of work for many years. Some are ready to start job-searching when they register but many are taking their first steps, so there is a focus on pre-employability support such as building confidence and skills. Carers access free, individualised support that considers their needs, ambitions and barriers to employment. Most support is one-to-one with an Employment Personal Advisor, but partners also run workshops on topics such as interview techniques, digital skills, looking after your wellbeing, and carers’ rights in the workplace. Carers also access wrap-around support provided by carers centres and other local services, such as benefits advice and counselling. So far, the project has supported 1,157 carers. Most (80%) are female, 65% are from an ethnic minority group, and 46% are over 50 when they register. 21% have moved into employment: 76% of these were economically inactive at registration. Around half have been supported to actively job-search, and over 60% have accessed training. Participants value a service that understands their challenges and needs as carers. They have reported improved confidence and wellbeing, more time to themselves, and that they feel able to job-search independently. 72% had sustained employment for 26 out of 32 weeks since leaving the project. Working for Carers is jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.
  • Education Development Trust’s Making a Difference Programme in partnership with Amber Foundation
  • Youth unemployment rates in the Coast to Capital area have soared since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, exceeding the national rates. The C2C region’s economy has been badly affected because of its reliance on Gatwick Airport and tourism. Unemployed, homeless young people can find it hard to move forward into sustainable employment – often the only roles available to them are minimum wage jobs lacking stability. Housing costs are also high in the area, leading to an insecure pathway which many struggle to maintain. How can a sustainable future be found for those that need opportunities and security? Education Development Trust’s (EDT) Making a Difference programme partnered with the Amber Foundation’s Farm Place residence near Gatwick to tackle the employability of homeless young people and move them forward to a sustainable future. How? Firstly, by our development of a three step, one-to-one, motivational coaching programme. Secondly, by a schedule of employability events to bring insight into the world of work. Lastly by linking with local Living Wage employers to foster aspiration and opportunities. This approach has led to Farm Place residents feeling more motivated, having a better understanding of suitable career paths and building their expectations to live a life they want. Since the start of our partnership, the total number of residents progressing into volunteering and work has increased 30% on the previous year. Motivation to work, aspirations of work, well-being and self-esteem have all increased. This has led to a drop in the number of people returning to Amber for further support. “It’s not just a job, it’s a career path I really wanted but didn’t see any point in going for…until I sat down with Making a Difference”. Michael, Farm Place resident.
  • Westminster Wheels  – A partnership between Westminster City council, Groundwork London  & Cycle Confident
  • Westminster Wheels is a not for profit Community Bike shop in Westminster. It was set up during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 in partnership between Westminster City Council, Groundwork London & Cycle Confident. It was designed in response to: rising youth unemployment; increases in cycling rates; shortages in bikes & parts, and crucially trained mechanics. We: 1. Nurture future talent for the cycle industry, offering industry recognised accredited training and six months of paid work at London Living Wage. We building links with London’s cycle industry to ensure we offer the training their future staff need and secure vacancies for our trainees. Across our partnership we provide wrap around support for all of our trainees, many of whom have previously struggled to achieve qualification and to secure and sustain employment. 36 previously unemployed people have started with us to date. Of the 19 who have so far completed: 84% completed qualifications; 79% moved into work. 2. Offering excellent service to central London’s cycling community, building a sustainable business and offering the experience necessary to prepare our trainees for future careers. Since opening, we have sold 300 bikes and serviced over 700 in the last six months. 3. Encouraging more Westminster residents to choose cycling. We have donated over 100 bikes to individuals and families in Westminster who could not afford their own: to take up cycling for commuting and fitness, increasing the uptake of cycling among underrepresented groups. Alongside this, we have supplied to bikes to over 60 DWP clients to help them secure work. This year we will be donating at least another 150 bikes. ‘I was homeless and found a poster for Westminster Wheels last year. I like bikes and I wanted a career in the industry and Westminster Wheels has absolutely transformed my life. I went from having no idea of where to go or what to do with my life to finding a career that I could happily spend the rest of my life doing’ Chris, 24.
  • The Motiv8 Partnership – A partnership between Jigsaw Homes Group, Bolton at Home, ForHousing, Stockport Homes and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group
  • Motiv8 works with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people across Greater Manchester to help them overcome deep-rooted barriers to employment. It is delivered through Manchester Athena, a partnership of Greater Manchester-based social landlords working to reduce inequality and poverty. Motiv8 is led by Jigsaw Homes Group, and delivered in partnership with Bolton at Home, ForHousing, Stockport Homes and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group. The Motiv8 partnership is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund, through the Building Better Opportunities programme. Motiv8 supports those furthest away from the labour market, people who have hit rock bottom and lost their way, often through difficult and harrowing personal situations. Each Motiv8 journey is unique, with people facing multiple and complex challenges including mental wellbeing and physical health problems, substance misuse, domestic abuse, homelessness, financial hardship and social isolation. Through one-to-one support, we empower people to overcome the challenges that have prevented them from accessing training or finding work. “I feel I have not been getting anywhere for years, with no way to turn. With support from Motiv8 I now feel that I have a future and something to look forward to and feel like I am getting somewhere with my life.” To supplement our model, we work in partnership with Shelter and Wai Yin Society who, along with our in-house Wellbeing Navigators, provide additional need-based support. Our specialist team of Employability Keyworkers support participants once they are ready to actively job search. As well as conventional employability work, they support confidence building, digital inclusion, travel barriers and, crucially, how to sustain employment. Motiv8’s aim and vision is simple, although the task is not – to find the hardest to reach people in Greater Manchester, and help them move forward and get back on track and into training and employment.
  • IPS in NHS Service – a Partnership between Blackpool Council and Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust
  • In September 2020, Blackpool Council’s IPS Service was tasked with integrating employment teams within Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust’s Early Intervention Service. People supported by this NHS service include those experiencing their first episode of psychosis who require a specialist community-based assessment and treatment from clinical staff. Since 2020, the IPS team has achieved exceptional performance for such a new service with high levels of job starts and sustainment rates and the service has been fully integrated with the clinical teams across the 3 Lancashire Hubs. This year the service is undertaking an ambitious expansion programme into all Community Mental Health Teams across Lancashire. This will result in the existing IPS team doubling staff numbers and integrating the service across 20 new mental health locations, working with patients who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The strength of the community partnership can be demonstrated by the high numbers of patients being referred into the service and moving into sustainable employment. This would not be possible without strong, trusting relationships being built between the IPS and clinical teams. Since the inception of the new service in 2020, the team have achieved over 500 referrals for participants with serious mental illness, and of these, 383 have started working with the team. The team have supported 131 participants to achieve paid work which equates to a 34% success rate with this complex client group. Job sustainment rates have also been high with 77% of those moving into work sustaining their jobs for 13 weeks and 68% of these were still in work at the 6 month point.
  • All in Dundee – A third sector consortium delivered by ENABLE Works, Barnardo’s, DEAP, Access to Industry, One Parent Family Scotland, Volunteering Matters, The Princes Trust, HELM and Street League
  • ‘All in Dundee’, led by ENABLE Works, is the largest, purely third sector Consortium in Scotland that brings together 9 employability providers, who work together in partnership to provide one service to the people of Dundee. Delivered by ENABLE Works, Barnardo’s, DEAP, Access to Industry, One Parent Family Scotland, Volunteering Matters, The Princes Trust, HELM and Street League the Consortium provides an ‘end to end’ service that hides the wiring of commissioning, to put the people we support at the heart of the service. The consortium model promotes ease of access and a single point of entry for our clients and helps to simplify the employability landscape in Dundee. Starting delivery in 2019, All in Dundee provides support to individuals aged 16-67 who have a health-related barrier to employment, parents who are unemployed or underemployed as well as a young person focused service for those aged 16-24 that supports the transition from school and into the world of work. The Consortium provides support to 1200 people each year in Dundee at Stages 1 – 5 of the Strategic Skills Pipeline. Offering a range of 1-2-1 support, group-based learning and activities delivered via outreach, community based and centre-based engagement to promote inclusivity and ease of access to services. The Consortium is comprised of Delivery Partners with extensive experience delivering support to our target groups, each bringing their own specialisms to the service in areas such as disability and health, care experienced young people, family/parental support, youth work, support for long term unemployment and supporting individuals with convictions and substance misuse barriers, ensuring we provide a high-quality service that meets the needs of the people we support, all under one service.
  • Women’s Work Lab and Bath College
  • Job seeker profile WWL mums are South West based in receipt of benefits and may face multiple barriers to employment including domestic abuse, children with SEND, health conditions and home displacement. Mums travel across the region to join programmes and claim travel expenses via the DWP FSF. Tailored Services Extensive focus groups show us the main barriers to employment for Mums are confidence, childcare and a lack of recent work experience. As such we have created a 9 month employability programme that supports Mums to restart their careers. Seven weeks of bespoke classroom training (so important when loneliness and poor IT skills are barriers to online learning) focus on strengths, confidence building and the unique challenges of parenting/work life. Mums then experience a 4 week work placement all during school hours and 6 months of mentoring/career coaching. The mums also create their own vital support network of like minded women. WWL has created the HIVE model of training which looks at History, Insight, Vision and Employability. Specific objectives, created in partnership with Bath College, include creating an Achievement Wall, Google #IAmRemarkable training, writing an elevator pitch, identifying strengths and values, MBTI profiling, the rocking chair exercise, personal vision, a work placement, career plan and CV creation. The collaboration between Bath College and WWL not only strengthens the programme offer but also provides key pathways for women applying for the programme who are not yet ready to participate. Applicants who are not accepted onto the main delivery will be provided with CEIAG and alternative provision within existing ACL provision. They are also offered training opportunities to address specific needs or to prepare them for later instances of the provision. A percentage of participants also go on to further training at Bath College. Bath College and WWL work together to provide quality work placements. Example employer partners include University of Bristol, University of Bath, Buro Happold, Wessex Water, Huboo as well as schools and charities like Mothers for Mothers and Empire Fighting Chance. Quantitative Evidence WWL 2021 Stats: 60 graduates and 60% working The partnership with Bath College is new for 2022 and we usually measure success six months after graduation from the core 3 month programme. Right now 33% of graduates from the programmes are already working with the expectation this will increase. Qualitative evidence – see supporting evidence Claire Lynch, Business and Skills Manager, B&NES Council We wanted a provider that could set aside the time to meet and greet and understand participants and make them feel more than a number. The energy and upbeat attitude as well as care and attention shown to the women on any course is outstanding. They provide an environment where women empower women and the education and professionalism shown to employers is exceptional. This is a real example of quality delivery. Employer Partner: Sally Curnow, UK Business Support Manager at Buro Happold “WWL has made a huge difference to so many Mums, whose voices were for so long unheard. Each candidate we have worked with has been prepped, trained and looked after so well. The first candidate is now a permanent member of staff! It has opened my eyes to the hidden talent that for so long was overlooked by businesses. They have not only changed the Mums lives, they are breaking the mould for how we recruit.” WWL Mum: Tanya graduated from WWL in July and now works as a Curriculum Administrator at Bath College “WWL helped me to find who I am again – not as a mum, sister or friend but as a person. I am now proud of all the remarkable things I have accomplished in my life. They are an amazing team that has shown an amazing group of ladies just how great they can all be” Best practice sharing WWL and Bath College work with 100s of referral partners and often signpost participants to other providers. Regular employer partner events and job centre meetings (to market the programme and talk about individual Mums) Best practice events – the inaugural UK Women’s Conference on Unlocking Potential which was attended by Mims Davies MP and many influencers Relationships with over 50 employer partners who provide work placements for participants and charities such as SmartWorks who provide interview clothing for Mums.
  • Employment Legal Advice Service – a Partnership between The Growth Company and Citizens Advice Manchester
  • The Employment Legal Advice Service is a partnership between GC Employment and Citizens Advice, offering free legal support to people who have been made redundant or faced other employment concerns due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has now been expanded to continue to offer support .going forward. The partnership was built out of a close working relationship and the on-the-ground realisation that people needed access to employment law advice but did not have the means to pay for it. So far over 230100 people have been helped by the Employment Legal Advice Service with a range of issues including discrimination, unpaid wages, dismissal, bullying, contractual issue, harassment, long term sickness, redundancy and pregnancy. These have included people from low paid industries, people with health conditions or disabilities, as well as those who speak English as a second language, meaning that the service has benefitted those most in the need of support during difficult times in their lives. Each caller to the service is triaged and referred to a network of solicitors who are providing their services on a pro bono basis, or passed on to organisations such as ACAS. Referrals for the Employment Legal Service have come from Citizens Advice, housing associations, local authorities, mental health services and employment support services. This partnership between GC Employment and Citizens Advice has helped people from across Greater Manchester access much-needed support with issues that were impacting them financially but also mentally and physically.